Visitors to Versailles 1682–1789, a popular exhibit originally opened at the Château de Versailles in France, will move to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue in New York and will be on display from April 16–July 29, 2018.
This exhibit is a significant compilation of what visitors and travelers to Versailles would have seen and experienced during this crucial time in French history as well as daily life at Versailles. The exhibition is the first on this subject and will turn the spotlight on these visitors through more than 300 works from the late 17th century to the French Revolution. With portraits and sculptures, Court attire, travel guides, tapestries, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, display weapons and snuffboxes, the exhibition will reveal what visitors discovered upon arriving at Versailles, the sort of welcome awaiting them, what they saw and their impressions, the gifts or memories they left with.
A Shift in Focus To Refined Manners
It had been at the beginning of the seventeenth century when the French court first shifted its focus from an ideal based on chivalry to one based on refined manners, guided by King Louis XIV, the Sun King, at the height of his power and glory.
A Place of Vast Wealth and Ideals
In 1682, the Chateaux at Versailles was just over a century old, and under the reign of Louis XIV, it became a palace of vast wealth, and ideas also. Versailles was becoming a truly international setting, not only drawing visitors from Europe and America, but also dignitaries from Thailand, India, and Tunisia. Their official receptions at Versailles and gift exchanges with the king were among the attractions widely recorded in tourists’ diaries and court gazettes.
An Exhibition Tracking What Visitors Encountered Visiting from 1682 to 1789
The exhibition tracks those visiting the Chateau at Versailles from 1682, when Louis XIV first moved his court to its environs, up to 1789, when his heirs Louis XV and Louis XVI and their families were all in residence.
Bringing together works from The Met, the Château de Versailles, and others, this exhibition will highlight the experiences of travelers from 1682, when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, to 1789, when the royal family was forced to leave the palace and return to Paris.
Through paintings, portraits, furniture, tapestries, carpets, costumes, porcelain, sculpture, arms and armor, and guidebooks, the exhibition will illustrate what visitors encountered at court, what kind of welcomes and access to the palace they received, and, most importantly, what impressions, gifts, and souvenirs they took home with them.
Music To Enhance the Exhibition Atmosphere
A series of informative events and performances include early and contemporary music world premieres, sure to attract the crowds to this outstanding exhibition at The Met. On April 21, the early-music vocal group TENET and the contemporary Metropolis Ensemble will present a program with two world premieres by cellist Timo Andres and musician Caroline Shaw.
Special Menu and Symposium
Master chef and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi will create a Versailles-themed menu of dinner and desserts on June 19 and 20 with the role of Versailles in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Europe discussed in a Sunday at The Met program on April 22, as well as a half-day symposium on April 30.
For more information, visit https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/visitors-to-versailles